Physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant salt tolerance

Jin Lin Zhang, Huazhong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Salt tolerance is an important economic trait for crops growing in both irrigated fields and marginal lands. The plant kingdom contains plant species that possess highly distinctive capacities for salt tolerance as a result of evolutionary adaptation to their environments. Yet, the cellular mechanisms contributing to salt tolerance seem to be conserved to some extent in plants although some highly salt-tolerant plants have unique structures that can actively excrete salts. In this review, we begin by summarizing the research in Arabidopsis with a focus on the findings of three membrane transporters that are important for salt tolerance: SOS1, AtHKT1, and AtNHX1. We then review the recent studies in salt tolerance in crops and halophytes. Molecular and physiological mechanisms of salt tolerance in plants revealed by the studies in the model plant, crops, and halophytes are emphasized. Utilization of the Na+ transporters to improve salt tolerance in plants is also summarized. Perspectives are provided at the end of this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Glycophytes
  • Halophytes
  • Na transporters
  • Salt tolerance


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